New director takes over at Mead

Phyllis Lehrer
Amherst Bulletin

Elizabeth "Lizzie" Barker wasn't the child who tugged her parents away from the art on display in museums. "My parents were the ones who had to drag me away to the gift shop and cafe," she said.

Now she can look at art all day, since galleries are only a few step away when her office door that identifies her: director and chief curator of the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College. She assumed the post in August replacing Jill Meredith, who resigned.

Sitting in her office, Barker spoke of her love of art, her career and goals for the museum. Ironically, there are no paintings on her pale green walls.

One reason: She does spend all day looking at art. "The bare walls are soothing, cleanse the palette like a sorbet course." The practical reason: The staff wing doesn't have the required climate controls for original art.

Barker, who grew up in Brunswick, Maine, recalled her first museum: the Peary MacMillan at Bowdoin College that had Inuit artifacts and stuffed polar bears. "I didn